A Look Into: Anchor CMS Blogging Platform

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Publishing online is as easy as pie, anyone can do it, even without paying a cent, thanks to numerous CMS (Content Management System) that are available for FREE, I’m sure you are already familiar with WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. These are currently the most popular CMS that are equipped with a set of powerful features.

In this post, however, we are going to take look at a lesser known CMS that I think is a good alternative to these big three, called AnchorCMS. AnchorCMS is a lightweight and super-simple blogging platform by Visual Idiot (who is also known with his clever tech-jokes).

Installation

The installation process is made simple, but your server needs to at least support PHP 5.3.6+ and MySQL 5.2+ to run AnchorCMS. If you are unsure, you can contact your hosting provider support for more information.

To install, simply go to the URL where you uploaded AnchorCMS, and click on the Run the Installer.

Next, fill in your database name and password, and if you encounter the following error replace the 127.0.0.1 with localhost within the Database Host field.

Next, fill in your website information and create your first account, and you are done. This probably can be done in less than 5 minutes.

Post Publishing

As mentioned, AnchorCMS is super simple; it is focused only on the publishing. To make it even simpler, it does not provide GUI for marking your content. Instead, you have to write the content in HTML or in Markdown format.

Still, it allows you to set the post parameters such as the post URL, post description, category, and you can even insert custom CSS and JavaScript. In addition, you can also create Pages.

Theming

It’s easy to develop themes for AnchorCMS. At least, you should know HTML, CSS, and a bit of PHP and you will be able to build your own theme (the documentation is quite helpful to help you through). Next time, we will see how to build AnchorCMS themes in more detail.

Additionally, if you prefer, you can also use the ones made by the community. There are a considerably lot of beautiful themes built for AnchorCMS, see AnchorThemes.

Extensions and Plugins

At the time of the writing, AnchorCMS provides two default extensions, Custom Field and Meta Data, which can be accessed through the Extend menu.

Custom Field: this extension allows you to create a custom for Page or Post editor. There are four types of fields allowed: HTML, File, Text, and Image.

Using the example of adding File field type, you will be able to upload and add file for your pages or posts. Then, you can call it in the front-side using article_custom_field function within your theme.

Meta data specifies the website information like the Site Name, Site Description, Post Count, Theme selection, etc — similar to the Settings page in WordPress.

Unfortunately, AnchorCMS has yet to allow for third-party plugin, but it has plans to support it in the near future.

Room for Improvement

I like how AnchorCMS is designed; it’s simple, elegant, and flat. Still, there are several parts that can be improved, and here is one (in my opinion) which is quite essential:

WYSIWYG Editor; The goal of AnchorCMS is to make blogging super-simple, and beautiful. However, that does not mean it has to sacrifice user experience. As mentioned, you should write the content in Markdown or HTML format. I can say that not everyone is familiar with these languages (except, perhaps for this kid). It is a very steep learning curve for most users if they have to understand either one these formats before they are able to publish the content. So, having a WYSIWYG feature on the next release or as a third party plugin option would be really great.

Final Thought

AnchorCMS is still in its early stages development and though it has fewer features than the mighty WordPress, if you only aim for blogging, AnchorCMS might be a better option.

Author:

Thoriq is a writer for hongkiat.com. He is also a web developer with very unpredictable sleep cycle.

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